One of the biggest NYE parties this 09/10 took place on a tiny Thai island called Koh Pha Ngan. The year changed on the very night there was a full moon – and if you know clubbing at all, you know that Koh Pha Ngan is famous for its wild full moon parties – so this was a truly cosmic coincidence. Over 50,000 locals and travelers converged on the beautiful Haad Rin beach to dance in moonlight and welcome the first dawn of 2010.
A little history: the first Koh Pha Ngan full moon party was a casual gathering of around 30 travelers in 1985. The parties grew by word of mouth and now tens of thousands of people party under the full moon every month – these events are one of Thailand’s top attractions for traveling party animals, so make sure you book your hotel room in advance unless you want to end up sleeping on the beach (which is admittedly not that bad a scenario).
All the bars on the sunrise beach of Haad Rin town stay open all night and if you're not dancing you're one of the minority. DJs spin R&B, drum and bass, house, trance and reggae but music isn't just dance-related, there are live bands as well. Fire skipping ropes and BUCKETS of alcohol are part of the fun but I think the real appeal lies in meeting diverse party people from all over the world. If you miss the full moon, don’t worry – Koh Pha Ngan now boasts 'half-moon' parties, as well. Any excuse for a party!
The full moon party phenomenon is not exclusive to Thailand. Cambodia’s best full moon parties can be found in the coastal city of Sihanoukville. There are fire shows, alcoholic drinks and music and dancing on the beach until dawn. It’s a more intimate and cheaper alternative to the madness of Koh Pha Ngan – especially for those who claim (unfairly) that Koh Pha Ngan has been 'spoilt' by becoming too popular.
There are also great full moon parties on the beaches of Goa, India. Anjuna Beach is one of the best locations as there are many bars, restaurants and clubs that spill over onto the sand. The people are friendly, the food is delicious and clubs stay open all night. So famous are Goa full moon parties that an entire genre – Goa Trance – was born from them
In Bali, full moon (known locally as purnama) has always been a special day for religious festivities. In the evenings, Balinese streets fill with pilgrims going to temples to make offerings. My advice is to join in these local traditions then head to full moon parties in the Kuta/Seminyak area. A profusion of bars and clubs stay open all night with good music and a great atmosphere.